How to measure the effectiveness of your safety training

Tess Lynch, 5 min read

How to measure the effectiveness of your safety training

So you have a safety training program, but does it work? You’re covering all the mandated topics, the workplace health and safety auditors are always impressed – so your training must be on the right track. Right? Maybe. To know for sure, it’s important to evaluate the effectiveness of your safety training!

Measuring safety training is often a factor that is overlooked after businesses have met their necessary requirements, yet measuring training can answer the two questions that matter most in the whole process; did anyone learn anything – and did they actually do anything different as a result?

Why do these questions matter?

Accidents and injuries in the workplace can cost up to $61.8 billion a year in Australia. The more information employees have, the more able they are to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. Effective training can improve retention of information, increase knowledge and help employees apply what they’ve learnt to their everyday activities. By measuring these factors we can identify areas that need improvement, fix it for the future and, in turn, improve safety – reducing the cost of injury to the business.

So… How do you actually measure effectiveness?

Before you start, you must identify the outcomes you would like to to achieve – and keep these in mind throughout the whole training process. Having clear goals will help make sure you’re staying on track and help you develop a criteria for measuring your effectiveness. Some of these outcomes could include:

  • Employee satisfaction with the training experience
  • Safety training aligned with the goals of the business
  • Knowledge, skills and practices learnt and applied to the work environment by employees
  • Change in the behaviour of employees to improve safety within the workplace
  • Reduced number of injuries and accidents on the job
  • Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)

Now that we’ve worked out some outcomes we can get on to the measuring!

When measuring the effectiveness of safety training we can look to training evaluation models to help us work out what to do now and we should do next.

The Kirkpatrick model has been used for 60 years and has a four step approach to evaluating:

  1. Reaction - How employees respond to safety training
  2. Learning - What employees learn and what skills they acquire from the training
  3. Behaviour - Whether employees have changed their behaviour and applied what they have learnt on-the-job
  4. Results - Measuring actual results to see whether the safety training program has been worthwhile

Learning evaluation models are, however, continuously being improved. And while the Kirkpatrick Model can be (and is!) still used, if you’re looking to level up your evaluating game, you should take a quick look at these two other newer models that have a stronger focus on business outcomes and employee performance.

The Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model (LTEM)

This model is the newest from Dr. Will Thalheimer, a pioneer in the learning research space and advocate of performance based learning. LTEM has eight levels of evaluation that start shallow, but end with a deeper and more comprehensive explanation of how measuring learning effectiveness can become… well, more effective.

The levels are:

1. Attendance

This is simply notes whether a employee has signed up, attended or completed the safety training program - not the best for measuring whether learning has actually taken place, but necessary all the same.

2. Activity

We can measure learner activity in three ways

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Participation

It is important to note that the presence of these three factors does not necessarily equal learning. Employees may be attentive, interested and participate, but this does not mean they are effectively learning nor that they are learning the right thing.

3. Learner Perceptions

Feedback is important. It can help employees judge their own level of learning and can provide information to assessors on what areas of training need to be improved. However when looking at the perceptions of learners we need to be targeting the right things. Instead of simply measuring learner satisfaction, it is better to measure comprehension, realistic practice and learners motivation to apply what they have learnt to their everyday.

4. Knowledge

This is about testing employee's recitation and retention of knowledge. For learning to be effective, knowledge must be retained over an extended period.

5. Decision making competence

Testing the ability of employees to make decisions given a realistic situation.

6. Task competence

Testing whether employees can make decisions and perform relevant actions. This is more of a practical approach and is essential in safety training so that employees feel confident enough to apply what they have learnt when placed under pressure in their everyday.

7. Transfer

This step aims to show whether employees are able to transfer what they have learnt into their actual work environment. If something does go wrong, employees will respond accordingly, using skills acquired in safety training.

8. Effects of transfer

This looks at how the transfer of what has been learnt effects the business, employees and others. The effect of improving safety training should be a reduction in workplace accidents and injuries.

The Bersin Impact Measurement Framework

This model takes a different approach than the LTEM. Instead of levels of evaluation, it looks at measurement areas and the questions they should answer. By assessing each of these areas and asking the relevant questions, you should be able to measure the job impact, business impact and ROI of your safety training.

Adoption

  • What is the completion rate of your safety training program?
  • Who is it that you are planning to train?
  • What are the obstacles preventing employees from adopting the safety training?

Utility

  • How useful is the safety training to employees— can it actually be utilised in their work environment?
  • Did the safety training program satisfy the needs of employees?

Efficiency (financial measures)

  • Was the safety training built and delivered in a cost-effective way?
  • How does the cost per employee and per hour compare to other safety programs?

Alignment with business objectives

  • Were the safety priorities of the business defined?
  • Do the objectives align with the safety problems of the business?

Attainment of customer objectives - the measurement of customer satisfaction

  • Did your training program meet safety and budgetary objectives?
  • How well do you feel you have obtained your stated goals?

Satisfaction

  • How well did employees like the content, delivery and experience of the safety training?
  • How do these satisfaction measures compare to existing skills, motivation and attitude?

Learning

  • How well did the desired learning on safety take place?
  • Does the learning reflect the problems in safety for the business?
  • Is the safety learning relevant?

Individual performance

  • How well are individuals meeting performance of objectives?
  • Have employees improved their performance?

Organisational performance

  • How is the performance of the business affected by the safety program? — Ideally, injuries and accidents will be decreased as a result of effective safety training.

Both models show that the value that training has on any business should be measured by how well it aligns with the safety goals of the business. Through diligently measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of your safety campaigns, you’re able to use training to successfully target potential gaps within the business. For help on improving or creating a successful safety training program for your business, feel free to contact us!


Tess Lynch

Tess is our in-house design savant, fashion leader and a pretty darn good writer. Whether it’s creating digital designs, blogging about learning science or rocking a neck-scarf, Tess can pull it off.

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